The Museum of Avant-garde

Fritz Gottschalk

Fritz Gottschalk’s name is inevitably associated with the reach of the International Style in North America and beyond.

Since training in Zürich, and practising in Paris and London, he mastered the principles of typography and modernist language. His first years were influenced by some of the greatest designers, in particular Emil Ruder and Armin Hofmann, who tutored his creative development at the prestigious Schule für Gestaltung Basel – which notoriously accepted only 2 students per year.

With the support of Graphis director Walter Herdeg, he got a job in North America, at Paul Arthur + Associates in Ottawa, moving two years later to Montreal, working on the Expo 67 identity system. Launching Gottschalk + Ash with Stuart Ash he brought to life a visionary design approach in which Swiss conceptualizing found its counterpoint to the open-minded Canadian flair.

This way Gottschalk marked undoubtedly the beginning of a new era for design – projecting the International Style on a global scale. His success was reflected in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (first and historic client) exhibition in 1966.

For three consecutive years the Swiss Department of Interior honoured his work with the Award of Excellence. In 1975 he became member of the AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale), for which he later acted as treasurer. The following year he was appointed Head of the Olympic Commission’s Design Control Office, working on the Montreal Olympic Games, and he opened his studio in New York.

Back in Switzerland, he founded G+A Zürich and G+A Milan. After many years of working with blue-chip clients internationally, Gottschalk was asked to redesign the Swiss passport, which is still iconic for its effective and timeless design.

The quality of Gottschalk’s work remains a source of inspiration to illustrate how clarity and purpose drive successful design. In 2008 he received the fellowship from the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) and in 2011 the GDC Lifetime Achievement Award.